Pakistani Folk Singer, Rehsma, dies at 66

Rehsma was a Pakistani folk singer. Awarded with Sitara-e-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction), the third highest honor and civilian award in Pakistan among other honors, she is famous for folk songs and her powerful singing voice.

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Popular Third Gender Singing Star Abdul Rashid Alias Reshma Dies at 66

Reshma was diagnosed with throat cancer in the 1980s. In later years, her health deteriorated, leading President Pervez Musharraf to come to her aid, giving her one million Rupees to help pay off a bank loan, as well as putting her on secured support of 10,000 rupees per month. He also helped her get a plot of property for herself, but it did not go through due to the change in government.

Her health deteriorated to such an extent that she was hospitalized in Lahore, Pakistan in ‘Doctors Hospital’ on 6 April 2013. The Punjab, Pakistan caretaker government elected to fund all her medical expenses. Tell her that she has lost weight and she instantly replies, “To kyā? Maiṅ is se slender, smart bhī to ho gaī.” (So what ? I have gotten slender and smart due to this), but then clarifies, “Doctors have advised me to restrict greasy and spicy meals.”

She gladly used to acknowledge, “I have no training in classical music, I do not know even the ‘r’ of any raga. So when I sing and miss any technical component, please pardon me,” is what this humble soul used to say to the audience. “For me, there is no difference between India and Pakistan, they are like my two eyes.” Reshma went into a coma in October 2013 and died on 3 November 2013 at a Lahore hospital.

Rehsma was born in 1947 in Loha, Rajasthan, India. She holds an Indian citizen. She belongs to the brown race.

Family and Early Life

Rehsma father, Haji Muhammad Mushtaq, was a camel and horse trader from Malashi. She belonged to a tribe that had converted to Islam. Her tribe relocated to Karachi immediately after the Partition of India, when she was just one month old.

Reshma has been seen, at the age of 12, singing at the Shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar by then-Pakistani television and radio producer, Saleem Gilani. Gilani arranged for her to make a recording of “Laal Meri Pat Rakhio” on Radio Pakistan in 1968. She became an instant hit and since that day, Reshma has been one of the most prominent folk singers in Pakistan and acquired international acclaim. Reshma had been appearing on television since 1968, recording songs for both the Pakistani and Indian film business, and singing in live concerts at home and abroad.

Some of her famous songs are “Dama Dam Mast Kalandar”, “Hai O’ Rabba nahion lagda dil mera”, “Sun charkhe di mithi mithi khook mahiya meinu yaad aunda”, “Wey main chori chori teray naal laayyan akhhian” ( song lyrics by renowned Punjabi poet Manzoor Hussain Jhalla ), “Kithay Nain Na Jori”, “Lambi Judai” and “Ankhiyan nu rehen de ankhyan de kol kol”.


The following song was featured by Raj Kapoor in his film Bobby, “Ankhyon ko rehne de ankhyon ke aas pass”, sung by Lata Mangeshkar. Her celebrity had crossed the border, due to pirated tapes. She was able to play live in India much later, during the 1980s when India and Pakistan allowed the interchange of artists. Subhash Ghai used her voice in the film Hero, which featured one of her most renowned songs, “Lambi Judai”. Du In 2004, she released “Ashkan Di Gali Vich Mukaam De Gaya”, which was used in the Bollywood film Woh Tera Naam Tha, and was also a hit record in India.

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During her career, she was asked to visit Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. In January 2006, she was one of the passengers on the inaugural Lahore-Amritsar bus, the first such service joining both sections of Punjab since 1947. The bus contained 26 passengers a total of which 15 were Pakistani officials, and Reshma had reserved seven tickets for herself and her family. Reshma planned to conduct many performances in India on this tour.

Reshma did not have any official schooling and spent much of her childhood singing at the ‘mazars’ (shrines) of the mystic saints of Sindh, Pakistan.